Voting Rights

A State-by-State Round-Up of Voting Rights Today

More than a year ago, the Supreme Court dealt a major blow to voting rights when they struck down a key provision of the Voting Rights Act in their Shelby v. Holder decision. In the wake of this decision, nine states and many other counties that once had to have their voting law changes approved by the federal government before they took effect — what’s known as “preclearance”— no longer have to do so. With the midterm elections rapidly approaching, where does that leave voters in the preclearance states and in other states where legal battles over voting laws are raging?

Yesterday ProPublica published a great round-up of the current landscape of voting rights across the country. Some of the lowlights included:

• Seven preclearance states have announced new restrictions since the Supreme Court rolled back the Voting Rights Act.
• [In 2012], a federal court called Texas's photo ID law [the] “most stringent in the country.” Now, it’s in effect.
• Two months after the Supreme Court ruling on the Voting Rights Act, North Carolina cut early voting and eliminated same-day registration.

ProPublica notes that while glaringly discriminatory barriers like literacy tests are behind us, these legal changes matter a great deal. As voting rights advocates have demonstrated, voter ID laws, limitations on early voting, and voter roll purges disproportionately harm communities of color and other marginalized groups. Rather, Americans agree that no one should be facing barriers to casting a ballot and participating in our democracy.

You can read the full article here.

 

PFAW Foundation

True The Vote Proves What’s Wrong With Its Voter ID Obsession

True the Vote is one of the most influential groups working to make it harder to vote by pushing for restrictive voter ID laws and launching challenges against people it thinks might be ineligible to vote, tactics which are supposedly directed at preventing voter impersonation fraud and double voting — crimes that in reality are exceedingly rare.

In order to cover up the fact that voter ID laws keep many times more people from the polls than the miniscule number of voter impersonation cases that they might prevent, groups like TTV try to conflate in-person voter fraud — the only thing actually targeted by voter ID laws — with faulty voter registration and with rare but persistent kinds of small-scale voter fraud by elected officials that they have no intention of actually combating.

A great example of this happened yesterday, when TTV reprinted a short blog post by former Bush Justice Department official and conservative activist J. Christian Adams linking to a story about “Three PA Elected Officials Charged With Voter Fraud.”

Adams offers his commentary, implying that this story proves that the numerous studies discrediting the voter ID push are just wrong:

I am curious to see if this barely reported case of voter fraud ever makes it onto one of the ‘academic’ studies purporting to demonstrate very little voter fraud. Those studies are characterized by false negatives.

A quick look at the story in question, however, shows that what happened in Pennsylvania has nothing to do with voter ID or any so-called “voter integrity” laws that Adams and TTV are promoting.

Pennsylvania requires that people requesting an absentee ballot provide a reason, which can be “illness or physical disability” that makes the voter “unable to attend his/her polling place or to operate a voting machine.” Those voters must also provide a copy of their photo ID.

The case that Adams and TTV are touting is that of three township supervisors who were charged with violating election laws in 2011, two for helping 13 elderly voters to apply for and fill out absentee ballots , despite the fact that all were physically able to go to the polls on Election Day and were thus ineligible to obtain absentee ballots in Pennsylvania. One of the supervisors is charged with helping an eligible absentee voter fill out a ballot but failing to report that he had assisted the voter.

None of this would have been prevented by a voter ID requirement. Instead, this is an instance of, at best, a misunderstanding and at worst, public officials using their insider influence to tinker with ballots.

If it’s the latter, all sorts of laws are currently on the books to prevent such instances of election fraud. But it is not something that so-called “voter integrity” activists have shown any interest in addressing, perhaps because it’s already against the law and policed. As the Brennan Center wrote in a 2007 report, such conduct “has been an issue since Senators wore togas” and is a completely separate issue from the kind of supposed fraud that groups like True The Vote claim to be fixing with suppressive voting restrictions.

It is extremely rare for individuals to vote multiple times, vote as someone else, or vote despite knowing that they are ineligible. These rare occurrences, however, are often conflated with other forms of election irregularities or misconduct, under the misleading and overbroad label of “voter fraud.” Some of these other irregularities result from honest mistakes by election officials or voters, such as confusion as to whether a particular person is actually eligible to vote. Some irregularities result from technological glitches, whether sinister or benign: for example, voting machines may record inaccurate tallies. And some involve fraud or intentional misconduct perpetrated by actors other than individual voters: for example, flyers may spread misinformation about the proper locations or procedures for voting; thugs may be dispatched to intimidate voters at the polls; missing ballot boxes may mysteriously reappear. These more common forms of misconduct are simply not addressed by the supposed “anti-fraud” measures generally proposed.

PFAW and Allies Deliver Half a Million Signatures Calling on Congress to Restore the Voting Rights Act

On Wednesday, PFAW joined representatives from a number of organizations similarly concerned with civil rights and the cornerstone of American democracy – the right to vote – on Capitol Hill to present Speaker John Boehner with the signatures of more than 500,000 Americans demanding that Congress move forward in restoring key provisions of the landmark Voting Rights Act.

Today, access to the voting booth has become an increasingly imperiled right for many Americans, thanks to the Supreme Court’s decision last year in Shelby County v. Holder. Across the country, states and localities are making changes to voting laws that make it more complicated and onerous to carry out a fundamental civic duty, especially for ethnic and racial minorities, the elderly, and student voters.

However, the Republican leadership in the House does not seem to share the public’s sense of urgency on compromised voting access. Tellingly, neither Speaker Boehner nor his staff acknowledged the coalition’s attempt to deliver the signatures in-person. The office that he keeps for his congressional district was locked, and knocks went unanswered, shutting out the American people, including his constituents, in the middle of a workday while Congress is in session.

In a press conference following the attempted delivery of the petitions, lawmakers and representatives from the #VRA4Today coalition of more than 50 advocacy groups spoke of the need to strengthen the rights of voters and restore the critical protections of the Voting Rights Act. Marge Baker, executive vice president of People For the American Way, said:

Repairing the damage done by the court majority in Shelby is a critical test of whether Congress can put partisanship behind to protect our democracy. The will of the people is clear: we will not tolerate voting discrimination in our country, we will not turn back the clock.

Joining in this sentiment was House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, who urged his colleagues to support the rights of Americans to participate in their government. “The right to vote is the most fundamental right in a democracy,” he said. “It is the right to have one’s voice heard.”
 

PFAW

Voting Developments in Ohio and Wisconsin Show, Again, Why #CourtsMatter

The past week held both good news and bad news for voting rights, depending on your part of the country. On Friday in Ohio, an appeals court declined to put on hold a ruling that expands early voting in the state, a win for those of us who believe that voting should be fair and accessible for all people. But on the same day, an appeals court gave the okay to Wisconsin’s voter ID law — a law that had been blocked months ago by a federal judge who noted that it disproportionately affects Latino and black communities.

Commentators have noted that instating the new voter ID law in Wisconsin so close to an election could cause real confusion for voters, and advocates are asking for a re-hearing. As election law expert Rick Hasen said, “It is hard enough to administer an election with set rules — much less to change the rules midstream.”

Beyond the practical implications for voters, it’s also important to connect the dots back to how these decisions happened and who was making them. As The Nation’s Ari Berman wrote on Friday night:

[A] panel of Democrat-appointed judges on the Sixth Circuit upheld a preliminary injunction from a Democrat-appointed district court judge striking down Ohio’s cuts to early voting. Two hours earlier, however, a trio of Republican-appointed judges on the Seventh Circuit overturned an injunction from a Democratic judge blocking Wisconsin’s voter ID law.

This is why elections matter. And the courts are increasingly becoming the arbiters of who does and does not get to participate in them. [emphasis added]

PFAW

How Catherine Engelbrecht Got Greg Abbott To Shut Down A Houston Voter Registration Drive

This weekend, the Dallas Morning News ran a long investigative piece exposing for the first time an armed raid that state Attorney General Greg Abbott's office ordered on a Houston voter registration operation, Houston Votes, back in 2010. The aftermath played out like ACORN in miniature: Despite the fact that nobody at Houston Votes was charged with any wrongdoing, the organization folded under the pressure of Abbott’s investigation.

The story provides an interesting look at the mechanics of the GOP’s obsessive search for certain types of extraordinarily rare voter fraud in order to justify extreme measures making it harder to cast a ballot. And it also stars two people who have since become familiar names in the national effort to make it more difficult to vote: Abbott, who is now the GOP nominee for governor of Texas, and Catherine Engelbrecht, who now runs the national group True the Vote, but who got her start running a Texas Tea Party group called King Street Patriots.

The raid on Houston Votes was part of a larger campaign by Abbott to uncover what he calls an “epidemic” of voter fraud, in an apparent effort to build support for a restrictive Voter ID law in Texas. Abbott’s campaign hasn’t exactly been a success: According to MSNBC’s Zach Roth, “over the 13 years of Abbott’s tenure, his office can only cite two fraudulent votes that might have been stopped by the ID law.” In the meantime, Abbott’s effort has resulted in some strangely zealous prosecutions, including those of a group of Tea Party activists who tried to cast protest votes in a resident-less utility district.

Dallas Morning News reporter James Drew explains how a racially charged speech by Engelbrecht led to Abbot’s investigation of and raid on Houston Votes:

On an overcast Monday afternoon, officers in bulletproof vests swept into a house on Houston’s north side. The armed deputies and agents served a search warrant. They carted away computers, hard drives and documents.

The raid targeted a voter registration group called Houston Votes, which was accused of election fraud. It was initiated by investigators for Attorney General Greg Abbott. His aides say he is duty-bound to preserve the integrity of the ballot box.

His critics, however, say that what Abbott has really sought to preserve is the power of the Republican Party in Texas. They accuse him of political partisanship, targeting key Democratic voting blocs, especially minorities and the poor, in ways that make it harder for them to vote, or for their votes to count.

A close examination of the Houston Votes case reveals the consequences when an elected official pursues hotly contested allegations of election fraud.

The investigation was closed one year after the raid, with no charges filed. But for Houston Votes, the damage was done. Its funding dried up, and its efforts to register more low-income voters ended. Its records and office equipment never were returned. Instead, under a 2013 court order obtained by Abbott’s office, they were destroyed.

Fred Lewis formed Texans Together in 2006.

The nonprofit community organizing group used volunteers to register voters in 2008 under the name Houston Votes. It registered only about 6,000 people that year.

For the next big election, in 2010, Lewis wanted to register 100,000 new voters in Harris County. He knew he couldn’t hit that number with volunteers. Houston Votes decided to use paid workers.

By that summer, Houston Votes had come to the attention of the King Street Patriots, a Houston-based tea party group. At the group’s regular meeting in Houston, its leader, Catherine Engelbrecht, talked about the New Black Panther Party. She then played a Fox news clip of an unidentified black man saying: “We have to exterminate white people off the face of the planet.”

The clip was 5 years old. It came from a forum in Washington about media coverage of Hurricane Katrina. But after the clip ended, Engelbrecht showed a picture of a house in Houston. She said it was the office of the New Black Panthers, at Main and Dowling streets.

Dowling Street is infamous for a 1970 gun battle between police officers and African-American militants, one of whom was killed.

“Houston has a new neighbor,” Engelbrecht said. She added that a person outside the house appeared to be an employee of Houston Votes.

The house shown on the screen was the office of Houston Votes. It had nothing to do with the New Black Panther Party. And it was about 9 miles from Dowling Street.

Two weeks later, the King Street Patriots held another meeting. Paul Bettencourt, the former Harris County tax assessor-collector, was a guest speaker.

He said Houston Votes was worse at registering voters than ACORN, the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now. Dozens of ACORN employees across the nation were convicted of voter registration fraud.

The next day, Bettencourt’s successor as tax assessor-collector, fellow Republican Leo Vasquez, held a news conference.

“The integrity of the voter roll of Harris County, Texas, appears to be under an organized and systematic attack by the group operating under the name ‘Houston Votes,’” he said.

Houston Votes had submitted about 25,000 voter registration applications. Vasquez said many were duplicates, or already registered. Only 7,193 were “apparently new voters,” he said.

Houston Votes later pointed to public records showing that at the time of the news conference, about 21,000 of the 25,000 who applied to register were already validated by the county and pending final approval by the secretary of state. Among those 21,000, the state had already given final approval to 7,193.

Vasquez announced he was referring the matter for “investigation and possible prosecution” to the Texas secretary of state and the Harris County district attorney.

The secretary of state, who advises local election officials on election laws, forwarded Vasquez’s information to the attorney general’s office on Sept. 14, 2010.

Abbott’s office opened a criminal investigation soon after.

Conservative Pundit: Kerry Declined Ohio Recount To Hide Rampant 'Voter Fraud In Favor Of Democrats'

Mat Staver hosted Valencia College professor Mark Logas on his “Faith and Freedom” radio program this week to hype the issue of voter fraud, the exceedingly rare crime that is being used by conservatives to push wave upon wave of voter suppression measures.

Logas was full of horror stories supposedly illustrating an epidemic of voter fraud, somehow all favoring Democrats. He even went back in history to argue that John Kerry declined to contest his narrow loss in Ohio in 2004 because a recount would have “exposed the voter fraud in favor of Democrats that goes on in Ohio alone.”

Specifically, he claimed that in 2004, in Franklin County, Ohio, which includes the city of Columbus, “there were more people who voted than lived there.”

Stunningly, this is not true! Although conservative activists raised a fuss when the number of voter registrations in the country exceeded the number of eligible voters — the result of outdated voter rolls — in the end, 533,000 people cast ballots in Franklin County in 2004 , which was decidedly less than the county’s estimated 815,000 voting-age population at the time.

And in the end, there actually was a recount of Ohio’s votes in 2004, requested by the Green and Libertarian parties, that did not uncover rampant Democratic voter fraud but in fact showed that Kerry had won a few hundred more votes than originally reported.

Staver: And you look at the presidential election in Florida in 2000 with George W. Bush and Al Gore. I mean, obviously that was a presidential election that was decided in one state, and that was very, very close. Huge possibility of having complete voter fraud the other way.

Logas: I don’t know if you remember in 2004, John Kerry barely lost Ohio and there were a lot of Democrats, liberal Democrats, that said, ‘You’ve got to challenge it, you’ve got to do a recount in Ohio!’ and he says, ‘No, no, no, I’m not going to do that.’ Why? Because in Franklin County, Ohio, in 2004, there were more people who voted than lived there. Not registered voters, than lived in the entire Franklin County.

Staver: So 100-plus percent voting.

Logas: Exactly. So for them to have challenged that exposed the voter fraud in favor of Democrats that goes on in Ohio alone.

Staver: Unbelievable.

Kris Kobach: Pro-Voting-Rights Religious Leaders Represent 'Churches In Quotation Marks'

African American religious leaders in Kansas are speaking out against the state’s new voter-ID law that has suspended the voting rights of 19,000 Kansans. In response, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach — the driving force behind Kansas’ law and similar measures across the country — is accusing them of representing “churches in quotation marks.”

A group of African American church leaders, primarily from the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church, denounced Kansas’ voter ID law in June as an effort to “turn back the clock on our rights.”

When an interviewer from the Topeka radio station WIBW asked Kobach about religious opposition to his plan yesterday, Kobach responded, “Kansans overwhelmingly approve it. I don’t know which churches — and I would put churches in quotation marks, because the vast majority of church leaders that I’ve spoken to are fully in favor of our photo ID law.”

He added that he found it “ridiculous to argue that a voter ID is a burden on the right to vote” because “everybody’s got one.” He added that the opposition to his law is “so funny to me.”

Kris Kobach: If People Have Trouble Registering To Vote, It's Their Own Fault

Kris Kobach is the brains behind some of the most notorious voter suppression and anti-immigrant measures in the country. He also has a day job as the secretary of state of Kansas. That’s why we’ve been closely following Kobach’s attempts to implement one of the nation’s strictest voter ID law in his own state — it offers a glimpse into what voter-suppression advocates would like to see throughout the country, and what voting rights proponents fear.

This year, Kobach is implementing for the first time a law that he encouraged the state legislature to pass in 2011 that requires Kansans to present one of a narrow set of proof-of-citizenship documents (such as a birth certificate or naturalization certificate) in order to register to vote.

So far, it’s been an unqualified mess. Two weeks before the state’s primary election, 19,000 Kansas voters still have incomplete registrations. On top of that, Kobach has implemented a two-track voting system so that people who fill out a federal voter registration form but don’t provide the extra citizenship documents are allowed to vote only in federal elections. Even voters who dig up the correct documentation and follow the instructions laid out by Kobach’s office have reported problems with getting that information to elections officials.

The debacle has drawn Kobach a Republican primary challenger, Scott Morgan, who has criticized the secretary of state for the voter-registration disaster and for the large amount of time he spends working on his pet projects in other states.

Last weekend, Kobach and Morgan held a debate, at which Kobach once again repeated his philosophy that if 19,000 Kansans aren’t finished with his byzantine voter-registration process, it’s just because they’re procrastinators who don’t care enough to vote anyway.

“They aren’t being prevented from anything,” he said of the 19,000 people whose voter registrations are on hold. “They’re simply not yet completing the process.”

In the three years after Arizona passed a similar law in 2004, 30,000 people were turned away from the polls.

Janet Mefferd: Border Crisis, Voting Rights All Part Of Effort To 'Collapse The System'

On her radio show yesterday, Janet Mefferd read extensively from a recent article on the conservative site Western Journalism, which argues that the crisis of refugee children on the border and the landmark “Motor Voter” law are both parts of a concerted liberal plot to “collapse the system” in America.

“Is this what’s going on?” Mefferd asked. “Of course this is what’s going on. This is what they wanted.”

Judicial Watch Claims Voting Rights Suit Is Plot To Legalize Non-Citizen Voting

The right-wing group Judicial Watch has filed an amicus brief in support of Kansas and Arizona’s effort to add an extra, burdensome proof of citizenship requirement to federal voter registration forms in their states. A new law requiring citizenship documents to register has created a huge mess in Kansas, where tens of thousands of residents have been left with incomplete registrations and Secretary of State Kris Kobach has instituted a two-tiered voting system allowing some people to vote in federal elections but not state elections.

The Election Assistance Commission has been fighting Kobach’s effort to expand his law to federal forms, noting that his extra proof-of-citizenship requirement would deter far more eligible voters than the tiny number of illegal votes it would prevent. (The EAC’s filing to the Tenth Circuit notes that Kansas claims to have found 21 cases of noncitizens registering or attempting to register to vote in the state, although the EAC implies that the actual number is even lower. Meanwhile, 18,000 citizens have had their registrations suspended thanks to the new law.)

In an op-ed for Brietbart News today, Judicial Watch president Tom Fitton argues that the Obama administration is fighting Kobach’s effort not because they want to protect voting rights, but as part of a sneaky plot to legalize noncitizen voting in all federal elections.

Fitton, of course, ties this to the influx of Central American children fleeing to the U.S. border, echoing Louie Gohmert’s claim that the president will encourage the refugee children to commit voter fraud. 

One of the many negative downstream consequences of illegal aliens flooding across the border is the increased possibility of voter fraud. Obama and his leftist allies are committed to thwarting any effort by states to protect the integrity of the voting process that would prevent illegal aliens and other ineligible individuals from voting.

As CIS points out, every single state in the United States legally bars non-citizens from voting in national or state elections. The Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996, signed into law by President Clinton, made it a crime for any non-citizen to vote in a federal election.

This is a fact so basic and so well-documented, says CIS, that 94% of fourth graders tested on the question of whether or not non-citizens could vote got the question correct.

So why are leftists inside the Obama administration in the bottom 6% of a fourth grade class? It’s certainly not because they don’t understand the law. They understand it perfectly well. It’s because they don’t agree with the law, want to change it, and know they would not have a snowball’s chance in you-know-where driving that kind of legislation through Congress. So they do what they always do: Ignore the law, go to court, and hope judges allow them to get away with the lawlessness.

You also should know that the campaign to allow non-citizens to vote is a national effort that has already borne fruit. Per CIS: “there are several municipalities in the United States that currently allow non-citizens to vote in local elections. Moreover, legislation to allow non-citizens to vote has been introduced in a number of states and localities including Washington, D.C., San Francisco, and New York City.”

Kansas and Arizona, however, were not willing to “play ball” with leftists who boldly court non-citizen voting. And that’s why they (and we) are active in court.

Failing to Defend the Right to Vote Is Simply Not an Option

As we work to ensure not only that President Obama receives legislation without undue delay, but also that whatever language he signs protects as many voters as possible from discrimination, it is important to remember those who died a half century ago fighting for this very cause.
PFAW

PFAW Commends Senate Hearing on VRA Legislation, Urges House to Follow Suit

WASHINGTON – Today the Senate Judiciary Committee is holding a hearing on the Voting Rights Amendment Act (VRAA), legislation that addresses the Supreme Court’s decision one year ago in Shelby County v. Holder. People For the American Way's Executive Vice President Marge Baker released the following statement:

“One year ago today, the Supreme Court gutted a key provision of one of our country’s crowning civil rights triumphs, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. We applaud the Senate Judiciary Committee for taking up the important work of repairing the harm done by the Shelby decision. Unfortunately, we can’t say the same for House Republican leadership, who have steadfastly refused to act.

“The right to vote is our most precious right as citizens. Failing to defend this right is simply not an option. Will House leadership stand up and act to protect every American’s right to cast a ballot that counts, or will they stand by and allow that right to increasingly come under attack?”

Today People For the American Way and its African American Ministers In Action program submitted letters on behalf of members, activists and a network of faith leaders thanking the Senate for moving forward on the VRAA and urging the House to do the same.

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Yes, Kansas's Proof-Of-Citizenship Law Is Disenfranchising People

Nearly one month before the state’s August 5 primary elections, 18,000 Kansas voters are still barred from the ballot box because of incomplete paperwork under the state’s new law requiring proof of citizenship to vote.

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, the major player behind the passage and implementation of the new law, has consistently pushed back on criticism by claiming that “nobody’s been denied any rights” and that the thousands of Kansans with suspended registration are just “procrastinators” who haven't gotten around to producing the required birth certificate, passport  or similar document to election authorites.

Now, of course, stories are emerging that show that the thousands of Kansans caught in registration limbo aren’t just “procrastinators” and that the system that he claims is quick and easy to use is in fact leaving people behind.

This weekend, the Wichita Eagle interviewed one such voter, Michael Nucci, who had his registration suspended despite having shown up at the DMV with his passport, one of the approved proof-of-citizenship documents:

Michael Nucci, a voter who was placed in incomplete status, said he found the process difficult.

Nucci, 43, moved to Wichita from Florida in 2012 and registered to vote without any problems. But in December 2013, when Nucci moved to a new address, he went to the DMV to update his registration and brought along his passport and phone bill. A week later, he said, he received a letter telling him his registration had been suspended.

Nucci contacted the Sedgwick County Election Office and was told to send a copy of his passport.

“There’s something involved between DMV and the election office where they are not on the same system. And I think it’s ridiculous,” Nucci said. “And I didn’t send them my passport because I already brought it to the DMV both times. Why should I send them a copy of my passport again, a third time?

“I’ve had no problem (registering to vote) until I came to Kansas,” Nucci said.

Today, the Eagle reported that the daughter of Kobach’s Republican primary challenger, Scott Morgan, was in a similar position — she uploaded a picture of her passport to Kobach’s website and still was informed that her registration had been suspended. Morgan told the paper that he was afraid that such “hurdles” to voter registration would discourage young voters:

Morgan said his daughter registered online through the secretary of state’s website and that he watched her upload a picture of her passport.

“It’s all these things that the average 18-year-old is just going to say, ‘the heck with it,’ ” Morgan said. He said that the online system repeatedly froze as she went through the registration process. “And it’s just phenomenal that we think it’s okay to put these kind of hurdles in front of these people who are trying to register to vote.”

Morgan said such issues could dissuade young people from voting.

“It’s hard enough to get 18-year-olds to get excited about voting anyway. And this is the kind of thing where each one of these steps, whether it’s the browser freezing up or the cumbersome form … each one of those you lose people,” Morgan said.

Morgan said his family couldn’t help but laugh upon receiving the letter, joking that many people would think it was something he made up for the campaign. But he took a photograph of his daughter holding her letter and posted it on Facebook as proof.

“When you get it, you laugh about it, because it’s so absurd. But then the sad thing is the absurdity is the reality of what we’ve created here in Kansas to protect ourselves from something that doesn’t exist,” Morgan said.

And this isn’t even to mention the hundred or so Kansans who will be able to vote only in federal elections in August, thanks to Kobach’s new two-tiered voting system. Or voters who don't have the required proof-of-citizenship documents at all and have to go through a time-consuming process with the state elections board in order to have their voting rights restored.

But Kobach apparently sees these problems as growing pains: He warned the Eagle that Morgan and his Democratic opponent just want to “wave the white flag and give up” on his voting scheme.

PFAW Calls Senate Hearing on VRA Legislation an “Important Step"

WASHINGTON –Chairman Patrick Leahy announced yesterday that the Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on June 25 on the Voting Rights Amendment Act (VRAA), legislation intended to repair damage done by the Supreme Court last year in Shelby County v. Holder. People For the American Way's Executive Vice President Marge Baker released the following statement:

“Chairman Leahy and the Judiciary Committee should be commended for taking an important step toward correcting the damage done by last year’s Shelby decision. The right to vote is the most fundamental right in our democracy, which is why we need a modern, effective Voting Rights Act to protect it. We urge the Senate to move quickly on this, and the House to follow suit. With another national election looming, now is the time to move forward to protect the right to vote for all.”

The day of the Senate hearing will mark one year since the Supreme Court gutted a key provision of the Voting Rights Act in its Shelby decision. While a bipartisan group of House members joined Chairman Leahy to introduce the VRAA in January, the House Judiciary Committee has yet to schedule a hearing.

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True The Vote Claims Voting Rights Act Encourages 'Race-Based Segregation'

In a fundraising email today, the voter-fraud mavens at True the Vote claim that a proposed bipartisan update to the Voting Rights Act is in fact a “move toward race-based segregation” that would “exclude millions of Americans from the full protection of the law — based solely on the color of their skin" and “turn our elections over to Eric Holder and Barack Obama.”

The Voting Rights Amendment Act is a bipartisan bill that would replace the formula that determines which areas are subject to Justice Department preclearance for changes in their voting laws. The previous formula was struck down by the Supreme Court last year, although the rest of the law remained.

The proposed formula, like its predecessor, would require states and counties with a history of voting restrictions targeting minority voters to obtain preclearance from the Justice Department before changing their voting laws. The preclearance provision, enacted to stop rampant Jim-Crow-era racial discrimination at the polls has for decades helped stem attempts to disenfranchise minority voters.

But according to True the Vote founder Catherine Engelbrecht, the very fact that the Voting Rights Act and the proposed coverage update are meant to stop racial discrimination at the polls means that they are the product of “race baiters” who want to “divide voters into color blocks for partisan gain” and “move toward race-based segregation.”

I'm sending you this message on the most urgent of topics!

Congress is considering a bill that could ultimately turn our elections over to Eric Holder and Barack Obama.

The bill is HR 3899. Bill sponsors have named it the Voting Rights Amendment Act, but we’re calling it what it really is- the Voting Rights Segregation Act. If it is not stopped, HR 3899 will fundamentally and intentionally change American elections into race-reliant battlefields where, for the first time in our history, the United States would EXCLUDE millions of Americans from the full protection of the law – based solely on the color of their skin.

HR 3899 also targets five states that will immediately be put under the authority of Holder’s Dept of Justice, requiring that they pre-clear election activities with Holder’s DOJ, effective immediately upon passage of the bill! The currently targeted states are Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Georgia and North Carolina. The Bill also gives Eric Holder the exclusive right to target other states for any reason he sees fit, including the passage and implementation of photo Voter ID laws.

This Country has gone through too much and come too far to now watch silently as the professional race baiters in Congress, like Reps. Jim Sensenbrenner and Sheila Jackson Lee, divide voters into color blocks for partisan gain.

Will you please help support True the Vote's effort to kill this terrible race based bill?

Earlier this week True the Vote led a group of pro-liberty election integrity organizations in requesting GOP House Majority Leader Eric Cantor to meet with our organizations to discuss the reasons this bill is an ill advised move toward race-based segregation. Last night, Cantor's constituents let him know what they thought of his position on HR 3899- by voting him out of office. But make no mistake, the battle for HR 3899 is far from won.

Kansas Moves Ahead With Two-Tiered Voting System, Some Voters Allowed To Cast Ballots Only In Federal Elections

We reported last year on Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach’s plan to create a two-tiered voting system in his state, in which voters who registered with a federal voter registration form but did not meet the state’s strict new citizenship documentation requirement would be allowed to cast ballots in federal elections but would be barred from participating state elections.

Kobach claimed at the time that the two-tiered system was “merely a contingency plan” in the event that he lost a lawsuit seeking to require the federal form used in Kansas to include the state’s proof-of-citizenship requirement. Kobach won that suit, but the decision has been stayed pending appeal, meaning that Kansas will go ahead with Kobach’s two-tiered system in this summer's primaries, reports the Associated Press. Arizona, which joined Kansas on the lawsuit, is implementing a similar system.

The good news is that, according to Kobach, fewer than 100 Kansans who registered with the federal form but didn’t provide the correct citizenship documentation will be the inaugural members of the new federal-elections-only voting tier. Those voters, according to the AP, "will be given full provisional ballots during the Aug. 5 primary elections — but only the votes they cast in federal races will actually be counted."

The bad news is that 18,000 Kansans who registered with the state form but couldn’t provide the correct documentation still can’t vote in either type of election.

Kobach, of course, continues to claim that “no one is disenfranchised” by his policies.

AP:

WICHITA — Kansas voters who registered using a national form without providing proof of U.S. citizenship will be given full provisional ballots during the Aug. 5 primary elections — but only the votes they cast in federal races will actually be counted, the state’s top election official said Tuesday.

Secretary of State Kris Kobach told The Associated Press that fewer than 100 Kansas voters who used the federal registration form without providing citizenship documents will be affected.

“No one is disenfranchised — any person can vote a full ballot by providing proof of citizenship,” Kobach said. “The notion a person is disenfranchised because they have to provide proof of citizenship is a silly one.”

As of Tuesday, more than 18,000 Kansans still had their voter registrations suspended pending documentation of citizenship. The vast majority used the state form to register, and they will still not be allowed to vote at all in the primary or general election unless they prove to state election officials that they are U.S. citizens.

The exception that allows the federal registrants to still vote in the August primaries for federal races comes because the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals stayed a judge’s ruling that had forced federal election officials to help Kansas and Arizona enforce their citizenship requirements.

Peas In A Pod: Ted Nugent Raising Money For 'Ass Kickin BloodBrother' Kris Kobach

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach’s Republican primary opponent is criticizing Kobach for his association with Ted Nugent, the rocker whose violent and racist rants have landed other politicians who have campaigned with him in hot water.

Nugent posted a photo of himself and Kobach on Facebook on Wednesday, accompanied by a plea for his fans to donate to the reelection campaign of his “ass kickin BloodBrother” Kobach.

Nugent, unsurprisingly, praises Kobach for his work pushing anti-immigrant and voter suppression policies throughout the country, including helping to write Arizona’s infamous SB1070 and passing a widely-slammed voter-ID law in Kansas that has left thousands of voters with suspended registrations. Or, in the words of Nugent, Kobach is “taking on the America hating ObamaGang at every turn” and “leading the states’ rights movement in America.”

Kobach told the Lawrence Journal-World that the photo of him and Nugent was taken in 2011 when he “ he went to Texas one weekend and participated in a hunt of feral pigs from a helicopter” as part of his work with “Nugent and Texas officials” on “legislation that expanded the ability of hunters to kill feral hogs from helicopters.”

“The Leftists and commies are working overtime to defeat him in this year’s election,” Nugent writes. “Let’s help him reload so he can keep up the fight!” He asks his supporters to use a link for their donations that will let Kobach know "which contributions are coming from Uncle Ted's crew."

I swear to God we the people damn well better get crackin & support the few brave warriors who stand with us & the US Constitution & Bill of Rights ABSOLUTELY everytime! Kris Kobach is our ass kickin BloodBrother & on the frontlines taking on the America hating ObamaGang at every turn.

Please help Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach drop a “money bomb” on Facebook! We may not live in KS, but Kris takes our fight directly to the enemies of America everyday!

For those of you who don’t already know him, Kris is the patriot who:

1. Co-authored the Arizona illegal immigration law.

2. Is suing the federal government so that Kansas and Arizona can require newly-registered voters to prove their US citizenship.

3. Is representing the 10 ICE agents who are suing the Obama Administration because Obama is ordering them to break the law.

4. Co-authored the Kansas law that says the feds can’t regulate a gun made in Kansas, as long as that the gun never leaves the state.


In other words, Kris is a major thorn in the side of Obama. And he is leading the states’ rights movement in America. He’s also an avid hunter and backstrap BloodBrother who’s a dear pig killin friend of mine. Here’s a picture of us hunting hogs together in Texas just before we rallied to legalize helicopter pig hunting! Yes, Kris & I did that!!

The Leftists and commies are working overtime to defeat him in this year’s election. Let’s help him reload so he can keep up the fight!

This is a KILLER op to make a HUGE upgrade for America! HITIT!

PFAW Action Fund Endorses Derek Cressman for California Secretary of State

People For the American Way Action Fund has announced an endorsement of Derek Cressman’s candidacy for California Secretary of State.

“Derek Cressman has been a consistent progressive leader, standing up against big money in politics and for fairness and the people’s voice,” said PFAW Political Director Randy Borntrager. “He will serve the people of California well as Secretary of State.”

Cressman is one of five primary candidates for Secretary of State.  He served as director of the Democracy Program for the U.S. Public Interest Research Group (U.S. PIRG) and the state PIRG organizations, fighting for the environment, open government, and fair elections.  He subsequently founded Earth Tones, an environmentally friendly communications company that donates 100 percent of its profits to environmental groups.

In 2006 Cressman began working with Common Cause on its groundbreaking voting rights and elections programs, eventually directing the organization’s Citizens United information campaign. While at Common Cause, Cressman led 35 state chapters as vice president for states. During his tenure, Common Cause expanded its coordination of grassroots organizing and advocacy on money in politics across all of its local chapters, pursuing local ordinances and referenda as a strategy to draw more attention to the issue.

Derek Cressman’s positions on women’s health, comprehensive immigration reform, public education funding, equality for all Americans, and money in politics – among other issues – distinguish him as quality progressive candidate for California Secretary of State.  His campaign website is http://www.derekcressman.com.

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Terrible Republican Secretary Of State Seeks Same

A Wall Street Journal story last week on a new set of PACs seeking to influence secretary of state races reported that the new conservative PAC, SOS for SOS, will be led by former Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell.

"We are no longer going to let the left decide the size and dimensions of the playing field," Blackwell told WSJ.

It wasn’t long ago that Blackwell himself was deciding the size and dimensions of the electoral playing field in Ohio by, among other things, dictating the size and dimensions and paper stock of mail-in voter registration cards.

Leading up to the 2004 elections, Blackwell became notorious for administering elections rules that made it a lot harder to vote. The most colorful of these was a last-minute regulation on the size and paper quality of printed voter registration cards. Rolling Stone explained:

To further monkey-wrench the process he was bound by law to safeguard, Blackwell cited an arcane elections regulation to make it harder to register new voters. In a now-infamous decree, Blackwell announced on September 7th -- less than a month before the filing deadline -- that election officials would process registration forms only if they were printed on eighty-pound unwaxed white paper stock, similar to a typical postcard. Justifying his decision to ROLLING STONE, Blackwell portrayed it as an attempt to protect voters: ''The postal service had recommended to us that we establish a heavy enough paper-weight standard that we not disenfranchise voters by having their registration form damaged by postal equipment.'' Yet Blackwell's order also applied to registrations delivered in person to election offices. He further specified that any valid registration cards printed on lesser paper stock that miraculously survived the shredding gauntlet at the post office were not to be processed; instead, they were to be treated as applications for a registration form, requiring election boards to send out a brand-new card.

Blackwell's directive clearly violated the Voting Rights Act, which stipulates that no one may be denied the right to vote because of a registration error that ''is not material in determining whether such individual is qualified under state law to vote.'' The decision immediately threw registration efforts into chaos. Local newspapers that had printed registration forms in their pages saw their efforts invalidated. Delaware County posted a notice online saying it could no longer accept its own registration forms. Even Blackwell couldn't follow the protocol: The Columbus Dispatch reported that his own staff distributed registration forms on lighter-weight paper that was illegal under his rule. Under the threat of court action, Blackwell ultimately revoked his order on September 28th -- six days before the registration deadline.

Other Blackwell projects in the lead-up to the 2004 election included making it harder to cast a provisional ballot and keeping urban precincts low on electronic voting machines, resulting in long lines. A report from Democratic Rep. John Conyers found that “actions by Mr. Blackwell, the Republican Party, and elections officials, disenfranchised hundreds of thousands of Ohio citizens, predominantly Minority and Democratic voters.”

Blackwell’s partisan bent was never a secret. After losing his campaign to be Ohio’s governor in 2006, he moved on to work for the Family Research Council and tried to angle himself into the job of chairman of the Republican National Committee.

In other words, Blackwell is the perfect person to lead the Right’s new effort to elect Republican secretary of state candidates in the mold of Kansas’ Kris Kobach, who see their jobs not as encouraging and facilitating voting, but making it harder...especially for certain Democratic-leaning constituencies.

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